Police Sport UK Offshore Sailing Championships 2011

Nottinghamshire Police Sailing Section, the current PSUK Offshore Champions, attempt to make it 8 championship wins in a row.
The following is an account submitted by Pete Walters, the skipper of Notts 'A' Team.


Notts send 2 teams to the Police Sport UK Offshore Sailing Championships held on the Solent and hosted by the Metropolitan Police.

The 21 teams taking part represented 12 Forces, including Strathclyde and PSNI. All the teams were using the new Sunsail F40, a 42 ft yacht which are new to Sunsail since the beginning of 2011.

The yacht accommodated 8 crew. However, due to its differences needs 9 or 10 to crew it efficiently.

John Oldham and Andy Taverner the Organiser and Race Officer briefed the teams on Sunday night 8/5/11 at Port Solent with the first race due to start near a channel marker called Browndown in the Solent the following morning at 10am.

Notts A motored across to Cowes Sunday night so they could get an early start and get in some practice prior to the first race.

10am Monday morning. With a nice force 2 to 3, the racing got underway. Notts A, noticing a large bias on the start line, started at the pin end of the line on a port tack with PSNI. They were the first 2 to get to the first mark and hoist their spinnakers for the reach across the wind to the 2nd mark. Notts were a few boat lengths ahead and gybed around the 2nd mark and, realizing the course to the 3rd mark was too tight, dropped their spinnaker with PSNI holding theirs until they dropped off downwind and had to drop their spinnaker. Notts A pulled ahead eventually finishing the race with a good lead, Roger Glass on Met B pulled through the fleet into 2nd place by the end with PSNI finishing 5th.

The racing in the new boats was definitely tighter than in previous years with places being gained and lost as the fleet was so close together.

Race 2 Monday. The author's memory is not what it used to be.. However, with similar conditions and similar course, Met A skippered by Andy Robinson won the 2nd race of the day followed by the Hampshire, Isle of Wight Team skippered by Simon Judge, then West Midlands team skippered by Ian Ingram. Notts A managed a 4th Place. It seemed that a good start in the race and a lead at the first mark was enough to win the race.

The 3rd race went to Met B skippered by Roger Glass with West Mids, Met A and Isle of Wight followed by Notts A in 5th. At the end of the 1st day, Met A led the fleet with Met B and Notts A in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

2 races scheduled which were to be longer in length than the first 3 races the previous day. Met A took line honours in the 1st race of the day with Notts A overtaking West Mids at the last mark to come 2nd.

The 2nd race had Notts A winning with West Mids, PSNI, IOW, Met B and Met A finishing behind.

With one discard Notts A were now in 1st place overall but on equal points with Met A.

Passage Race day. Wind again a nice force 2-3 with occasional 4, bad start by Notts A saw them in 11th place at the first mark with West Mids a minute ahead of the fleet. Notts managed to get through to 7th by the 2nd mark and the next beat into the wind saw them overtake and take the lead on the approach to the next mark, which was near the Bramble Bank. As it was a foul tide, some short tacks along the bank and shallows seemed to be paying dividends until Notts stopped.. The charts indicated that there should have been at least 2 metres under the keel however it seemed the sands had moved and Notts A came to a standstill, the following pack who were on a very similar course split and tacked away like a gun had been shot at them and continued to the mark whilst Notts A. tried to get off the bank. It appears Cleveland B had not noticed as they came and parked a few metres from Notts.

After some time Notts A managed to tack the boat and sail off the bank but retired from the race. Cleveland B waited for the tide to lift them off the bank. The race continued with the conditions changing and lots of different boats leading the fleet at different points during the 8hr race. At the finish Cleveland A skippered by Tony Riordan took line honours with Met B and Met A with PSNI skippered by Steve McKraig following. Notts B skippered by Mark Flavell came 5th and West Mids came 8th.

Overall Met A now had the overall lead with Notts A in 2nd place adrift by 2 points. It seemed the same crews were getting to the front of the fleet.

Thursday, 2 or 3 races scheduled.
The start was in the West Solent with racing mark Gurnard SC as the pin end with the tide sweeping the fleet over the line. Notts A, needing to get a good start and make up some points on Met A, didn't account for the tide sufficiently and were over the line at the start together with Cleveland A - both having to return and restart from the back of the fleet. A beat into the wind saw Met A at the windward mark with a good lead with West Mids in 2nd. Notts A were mid fleet. However, with a tight spinnaker reach to the next mark against the foul tide they pulled through and were lying 7th at the next mark for a run back into the middle of the Solent to round East Lepe a channel marker. They pulled into 4th place behind Met C skippered by Mason King but again overtook on the tight spinnaker reach to the next mark. Both Met A and West Mids had a good lead, then Met A had problems dropping their spinnaker and after some keep net fishing recovered the spinnaker and rounded the mark in 2nd place behind West Mids and Notts A close behind. A small beat back with the tide brought Notts A into 2nd place. With the next leg back to Gurnard SC mark a spinnaker leg, positions were maintained. The final small beat from Gurnard SC saw the 3 leaders cover tacking to the finish line with West Mids finishing 1st with Met A just beating Notts A and Met C coming 4th. Cleveland A got through to 10th after their start.

The start line was moved near to Lepe Spit for the final race of the day. Notts A went off the pin end to lead for the first section of the beat with the wind freshening, gusting to 24 knots. Met A overtook, with both boats cover tacking for the whole of the 3 hour race; both matching speed with spinnaker and course around the race track. At the end Met A beat Notts A by 2 seconds as they crossed the finish line. It seemed the heavier conditions suited the Devon and Cornwall B boat skippered by Graham Higginson as they came in 3rd with West Mids 4th.

Friday, the last race of the event. Sunsail, upon hearing that some of the boats had been aground during the week, banned Notts A and Warwickshire skippered by Henry Scutt from sailing until the boats had been lifted and the keels checked. Cleveland B had changed boats as had Strathclyde who had been on Gurnard ledge the day previous. With some persuasion Notts A and Warwickshire managed to get Cowes Yacht Haven to lift both boats for a fee with a representative from Sunsail confirming neither had any damage and could go racing. Some of the crews came to have a look, a comment was overheard to the effect that the Notts A boat was just the same as the rest and did not have a winged keel or other differences to account for the speed around the course.

The event could be won by either Met A who were several points ahead, but a win in the last race by Notts A could give them the result.

The race started at 0955 however Met A decided to challenge Notts A with some pre start manoeuvring. However, Met A lost the start by being over the line at the start signal. Met A, regardless of the radio messages or shouting from other teams, continued with their start and cover tacked Notts A up the first beat. Notts A were 3rd from last at the first mark with Met B in the lead. Met A retired from the race. Notts A with spinnaker up sailed throough the fleet to be in 5th place by the 2nd mark which was maintained to the next mark for the leg into the wind. After the beat Notts A had got into 3rd place behind Notts B. Met B had a good lead for the downwind spinnaker leg. Notts A went into 2nd place for what turned out to be the final beat into the wind.

It seemed that Met B had not thought about the race being shortened. Notts A had the binoculars out to check the Committee boat and see what flags were flying. The Committee boat was to starboard of the next mark which was to be rounded to starboard and was flying the 'shorten course' flag. Met B rounded the mark for the next downwind leg and started to hoist their spinnaker before realising the race had been shortened and that they should have left the last mark to Port to cross the finish line. Whilst they were undoing themselves Notts A and Notts B come through the line coming 1st and 2nd with Met B 3rd.

The Race Committee, having seen the actions of Met A after the start of the race, disqualified the team from that race and they had to count the 22 points towards their final overall score for the week.

Notts A with 14 points to count and 3 race wins won the event overall - for the 8th consecutive year. West Mids 5 points behind were 2nd with Met B a further 5 points behind in 3rd. Met A coming 4th overall.

The prize giving was held at Port Solent with Notts A skippered by Pete Walters being awarded prizes for the win in the first and last race and the win overall.